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The Hero

The Hero

4 mins 418 4 mins 418

Many moons back, it had been a while the sun was setting. Football was so interesting at times that we lost track of time. Post the game, the realization of time and hunger dawned back. Dusting my trousers and hiding my bruises I returned home; I knew I was late, so I tiptoed inside the door. Out of nowhere, my mother grabbed me by my left ear and twisted it. "Ah, ma sorry!" I shrieked. "Wash yourself and study today’s lessons," she commanded. I hurried to my room with a sullen face.

"I know I have to study and it’s just sometimes I come late," I murmured under my breath as I opened a thick book of Physics. After a few concepts of Physics, my mind wandered how wonderful it would be if all the world scientists were made to play football! Newton passes the ball applying his third law towards Archimedes who strikes the ball with full force bending in mid-air. Meanwhile, Einstein stops the ball realizing his theory of relativity. “Bravo!” I punched the air. There was a shadow growing outside the door, I buried my face in the brown-covered book. Mother came in with a glass of milk and said, “Study well my boy, you will be a scientist someday who can score goals.” She had heard the story from me before, but I maintained my stern face. She came close and said, “Would you like to hear a story?” She knew my weakness for stories. She began narrating one.

A middle-aged man with a lean frame and deep black eyes returned home after a hard day toil on the field. The area in the vicinity was painted yellow with the mustard plant dancing in the field as the breeze tickled its slender frame. The sun playing hide and seek with the clouds at the horizon painted the sky orange, yellow and purple as one moved away from the sun. The fresh smell of orange trees and cricket chirping filled the atmosphere. The man reached the balcony, pulled his favorite chair and enjoyed his pipe playing with his thoughts. The emerging puffs of smoke were even more satisfying when his wife was alive to share a mug of tea and their day’s thought. Gopal snapped to reality and found the house even more eerily quiet.

“Seems you are not enjoying Rahul," teased my mother, “I’ll stop.” “No! ma please continue.” She smiled and proceeded ahead.

It had been three years, Gopal had lost his wife to cancer. He had always encouraged his wife to become independent and follow her dreams, unlike other villagers. He would often be criticized for this, but he would shrug it off with a smile. One December afternoon, he visited a nearby market to strike a lucrative deal for his oranges at his farm. As expected he got a good deal and went to treat himself at a local tea stall with a large cup of tea and a plate of samosa with extra sauce. Just as he slurped his first sip of tea his attention was hooked on a cry of a little baby. It was crying louder than usual as if its heart was broken unfixable. The man rushed towards the sound; the tea and half-eaten samosa neglected on the table. The sound was coming from a garbage bin, someone had abandoned the baby there. He lowered his head and wrapped in cloth was a beautiful little girl. He inquired if she belonged to someone. No response. He took her to the nearby shop wrapped her with his jacket and fed her with a glass of milk. She smiled and clasped Gopal’s rough finger. That smile reminded him of his wife; he knew what he had to do.

“Then what happened ma, did he take her home?” Rahul interrupted in excitement. Mother patiently replied, “Yes! Gopal took her home, took good care of her and named her Asha.”

The other villagers again criticized but Gopal turned deaf ears. She went to school and after returning helped Gopal with daily chores. She was a blessing for him and his hope for life. He had no children but loved Asha more than if he would have one. She also loved and respected Gopal in return. Gopal would now drag his pipe while Asha studied sitting at a distance. He never allowed her close while he smoked but rest of the time he was her horse, her bear, her savior and her hero.

Many years later he saw her become a government officer, that was his happiest day. He had a reason to die a satisfied man which he did after a few months. He had the longest funeral possession. That day people praised him for his kindness and character.

Rahul, lying on his mother’s lap, felt a warm sensation on his face; his mother was crying. “I am Asha and Gopalji is the only reason I’m here today,” she said. They both cried together.

“…This incident inspired me to become an IAS officer,” said Rahul addressing thousands of college students. Asha’s face gleamed with joy; she closed her eyes and thanked her Godfather secretly.

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